ADVANCING THE STATE OF THE ART
Innovation advances science. Historically, innovation resulted almost exclusively from fundamental theories combined with observation and experimentation over time. With advancements in engineering, computing power and visualization tools, scientists from all disciplines are gaining insights into physical systems in ways not possible with traditional approaches alone.
Modeling and simulation has a long history with researchers and scientists exploring nuclear energy technologies. In fact, the existing fleet of currently operating reactors was licensed with computational tools that were produced or initiated in the 1970s. Researchers and scientists in NEAMS are developing new tools to predict the performance, reliability and economics of advanced nuclear power plants. The new computational tools will allow researchers to explore in ways never before practical, at the level of detail dictated by the governing phenomena, all the way from important changes in the materials of a nuclear fuel pellet to the full-scale operation of a complete nuclear power plant.
For efficiency and practicality, the NEAMS program organizes its development activities into two distinct categories: the Fuels Product Line and the Reactors Product Line. Teams concentrating on the Fuels Product Line investigate the materials that comprise and surround nuclear fuel. The Reactor Product Line team focuses on developing design tools to study the full reactor system. These tools give the models and codes credibility and certainty needed for real world situations. By providing the capability to couple the Fuels and Reactors Product Lines, entirely new classes of problems can be tackled with fidelity never before attained. In this regard, the NEAMS Toolkit provides the designer with a truly predictive capability that spans the “pellet to plant”.